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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Moore: Age is just a number for Niekro and Moyer

Phil Niekro: The sparks is still there!

“Oh, yeah. I threw my last [Major League] pitch when I was 48, but I could have gone another year or two,” Niekro said, recalling his final season in 1987. It began with the Cleveland Indians, but he was traded near the end of the season to the pennant-hopeful Toronto Blue Jays.

After two rough starts, then-Blue Jays general manager Pat Gillick released Niekro and told Toronto reporters that he thought Niekro’s career was over.

“Since I have total respect for [Gillick], and also out of fairness to myself, I just took his word and decided that maybe he knew more about myself than I did, and that maybe he sees something that I don’t see, so I went by his words,” said Niekro, who made one final start with Atlanta that season. “After I retired, the next Spring Training, I got the fever. Then the next Spring Training after that, I got the fever.”

In fact, Niekro still has the fever.

Said Niekro, chuckling, but only a little, “I still feel like I can get guys out in the big leagues right now. My arm feels as good now as it did when I retired.”

...“I’ll throw some BP down there, so my arm is no problem,” Niekro said. “To stick around a long time, it’s a discipline thing for a player, where you have to stay healthy. You also have to be fortunate, just to spend any time in the big leagues. I’ve got no squabbles about anything. I just kick myself in the butt for not hanging around for another year or two.”

Repoz Posted: January 21, 2012 at 12:34 PM | 15 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: braves, history

Reader Comments and Retorts

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Statements posted here are those of our readers and do not represent the BaseballThinkFactory. Names are provided by the poster and are not verified. We ask that posters follow our submission policy. Please report any inappropriate comments.

   1. A triple short of the cycle Posted: January 21, 2012 at 12:55 PM (#4041887)
I see baseball as a way we pass the years of our lives and measure the aging process. When we are young, the players are older than we are, and we hold them as heroes. In our 20s and 30s, we have learned a lot more about baseball and have more perspective, and the players are our peers. I am now at an age (42) where I have seen the entire careers of Hall of Famers, and there are no ALMOST no players who are as old as I am... so I gotta root for Moyer... Stairs... Wakefield... because I can't be an old man if people my age can play Major League baseball. And I know many of the posters here are older and wiser than I am and I hope to get there.

I turned in my team roster last night, it's time for another season in the fog playing in the San Francisco softball league. Forever young.
   2. Dr. Vaux Posted: January 21, 2012 at 01:01 PM (#4041892)
It would be totally awesome if he made a comeback at age 72 and had any kind of success. It does seem barely plausible that a knuckleballer could pitch at that age.
   3. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 21, 2012 at 03:30 PM (#4041956)
I turned in my team roster last night, it's time for another season in the fog playing in the San Francisco softball league. Forever young.

Wait, were you at Sports Basement? We should've met up!
   4. Bruce Markusen Posted: January 21, 2012 at 03:48 PM (#4041969)
I think at 72, and with a knuckler, Niekro could probably get a batter or two out. But a hitter, trying to play at age 72, would be lucky to even make contact with a major league pitch. Maybe he could bunt the ball, but that would be the extend of it.
   5. Bob Meta-Meusel Posted: January 21, 2012 at 04:36 PM (#4041984)
It's a nice thought, but Gillick was right... it wasn't just the 2 bad starts with Toronto, there were also the 22 starts with the Indians, during which he posted a 77 ERA+... even Knuckleballers get to a point where they just can't pitch effectively anymore, and Phil had hit it.
   6. Rally Posted: January 21, 2012 at 04:38 PM (#4041986)
He might be able to bunt the ball, but even if the 3b and SS are asleep the LF would have time to charge in and throw him out.
   7. A triple short of the cycle Posted: January 21, 2012 at 05:13 PM (#4041991)
Wait, were you at Sports Basement? We should've met up!
Sure was. What night do you play on? My team plays fridays in coed DD. Usually at Jackson, sometimes at Moscone. We're always looking for players.
   8. A triple short of the cycle Posted: January 21, 2012 at 05:21 PM (#4041996)
I grew up in Connecticut in the 70s, when the only professional sports team in the State was the Hartford Whalers. (Now there is none, unless you count UConn hoops.) A kid down the block had a 45 of the Whalers theme song (sort of a rocking horn fanfare). My memory of going to see the Whalers circa 1978 at the Hartford Civic Center was a white-haired Gordie Howe skating around without a helmet - he was like 50 at the time.
   9. Matthew E Posted: January 21, 2012 at 05:49 PM (#4042011)
Wait a second, though, didn't he pitch for Atlanta a bit after the Jays? No? [checks] Yeah, he did. One game.
   10. Ned Garvin: Male Prostitute Posted: January 21, 2012 at 07:36 PM (#4042061)
Moore: Age is just a number for Niekro and Moyer


A rather large number.
   11. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: January 21, 2012 at 11:32 PM (#4042180)
Sure was. What night do you play on? My team plays fridays in coed DD. Usually at Jackson, sometimes at Moscone. We're always looking for players.

I'm already on four teams - Awesome GF has been great about it, but if I were to join another full-time she'd surely disembowel me then strangle me with my own intestines.
HOWEVER. I could work an occasional fill-in, I'm pretty sure (especially if my Saturday team has a bye week), so PM me & we'll work something out!
   12. Walt Davis Posted: January 22, 2012 at 02:13 AM (#4042240)
Didn't Luke Appling homer at 72? Granted, not a major-league pitch.

And in a Jamie Moyer-Frank Robinson matchup, I'm not sure I'm betting on Moyer.
   13. AJMcCringleberry Posted: January 22, 2012 at 07:14 AM (#4042266)
I'm still holding out hope for a Rickey comeback.
   14. Repoz Posted: January 22, 2012 at 07:46 AM (#4042271)
Didn't Luke Appling homer at 72?

Yes, at the Cracker-Jack All-Star Old-Timers game in Washington, D.C....but the Trost/Levine Construction Co. had brought the fence in to 250 feet.
   15. zack Posted: January 23, 2012 at 10:59 AM (#4043105)
“Since I have total respect for [Gillick], and also out of fairness to myself, I just took his word and decided that maybe he knew more about myself than I did, and that maybe he sees something that I don’t see, so I went by his words,” said Niekro, who made one final start with Atlanta that season. “After I retired, the next Spring Training, I got the fever. Then the next Spring Training after that, I got the fever.”



I love this quote. If Pat Gillick told me I couldn't play ball, I'd probably quit too.

I grew up in Connecticut in the 70s, when the only professional sports team in the State was the Hartford Whalers. (Now there is none, unless you count UConn hoops.) A kid down the block had a 45 of the Whalers theme song (sort of a rocking horn fanfare). My memory of going to see the Whalers circa 1978 at the Hartford Civic Center was a white-haired Gordie Howe skating around without a helmet - he was like 50 at the time.


The song is Brass Bonanza. Howe ended up playing until he was 52, and also played a Minnie Minoso-like single shift in an IHL game at age 69.

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